What just brought more than 1,500 golfers from all 50 states in the U.S. and more than 50 countries around the world to Pinehurst for 2 weeks this summer? The U.S. Open Championship? The U.S. PGA Championship? The Players Championship? None of these. However, it is a major, annual world-class event but it’s not even for adult golfers! The U.S. Kids Teen World Championship was recently held the week of July 26-29 for players aged 13-18, followed by the U.S. Kids World Championship the week of August 2-5, the largest and most prestigious tournament in the world for players aged 5-12.
“It is two weeks unlike any other of the year,” said Matt Chriscoe, Pinehurst Resort’s director of lodging. The Resort was the official tournament headquarters, as well as a host site, for the Championships.
Play spanned 17 courses over the 2 weeks, including Pinehurst No. 2, Pine Needles, and Longleaf, which is the home of the U.S. Kids Golf Academy. Each year, the event provides a stage for golf’s next generation of stars to shine. This is the 13th year that Pinehurst and surrounding communities have come together to be gracious hosts for the players and their parents, siblings, extended family, coaches and friends.
Preparations began weeks in advance, and over 700 volunteers from across Moore County participated tirelessly to make the event happen. Fifteen local hotels were filled to capacity, and they all made the extra effort to ensure their guests had an enjoyable – and memorable – visit. Making sure there were more towels at the pool; plenty of kid-friendly foods like pizza, chicken tenders, ice cream and other snacks; and access to board games, cornhole, and ping pong tables were a few of the ways our hotels catered to these visitors. The Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) provided welcome packets containing area information and coupons. Each player also received a token gift, a colorful ball marker.
By creating these once-in-a-lifetime memories, the hope is the players will travel back again in the years to come to enjoy our communities with their own families.
The Championships’ economic impact on Moore County is substantial at approximately $9.5 million per year. “This is a great opportunity for our business owners,” said Linda Parsons, president & CEO of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce. “We have guests from all over the world who are dining, shopping, getting gas, buying souvenirs.”
“Golf is our history and these youth are taking advantage of that history, and supporting our businesses and creating an economic boost for us,” she added. “It is fun to walk down the street or go out to eat and see all these families supporting our community.”
Beverly Stewart, interim president for the CVB, estimates spending per family hits close to $8,000. That figure is based on an average length of stay of six to seven nights — approximately 57,000 room nights for area hotels and rental properties — coupled with more than 172,800 family meals, plus shopping.
“It is such a superb event. It is so family-oriented and these families come from literally all over the world,” said Richard Lawson who has led the U.S. Kids Golf Championships volunteer program for all 13 years the event has been hosted in the Pinehurst area. “And then you have all these families mingling together and that is a very good thing. Golf is a lifetime sport. We are creating the standard for the rest of their lives.”
Matt Chriscoe agreed. “What we are seeing is the future of golf, and that is exciting. These kids will play this sport for the rest of their lives and they will always have this memory about Pinehurst.”